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Race to the Championship Playoffs – Oct. 15-16

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 10/14/19, 10:47AM EDT

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El Paso, Austin look to lock in playoff berths and the race around the Eastern playoff line continues


Birmingham Legion FC and the New York Red Bulls II both need victory on Wednesday night as they square off at BBVA Field. | Photo courtesy Birmingham Legion FC

After a weekend of upsets and surprises, some parts of the playoff picture have come into focus, while others remain just as blurry. There are two more postseason berths within reach going into the final week of the season’s midweek action, however, with Austin Bold FC and El Paso Locomotive FC ready to book their playoff places.

There’s one week to go. Here’s where we stand going into the midweek action.

Western Conference

1.Phoenix Rising FC
1. Phoenix Rising FC
Record: 23-4-6, 75pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (Clinched)
Max Points Available: 81pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. OKC (10/18)
A surprise defeat in stoppage time against Real Monarchs SLC leaves Phoenix with one last go at setting records for total wins and total points in the regular season on Friday night.
2. Reno 1868 FC
2. Reno 1868 FC
Record: 17-10-6, 57pts
Playoff Odds >Clinched
Projected Final Position: 2nd (79 percent)
Max Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @TUL (10/19)
Reno got handed a massive boost by the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night as Los Dos’ stoppage-time equalizer against Fresno FC allowed 1868 FC to jump past the Foxes and into control of second place in the West. Reno now only needs to take victory on the road against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday to secure its best positional finish to a season after taking third place two years ago.
3. Fresno FC
3. Fresno FC
Record: 16-8-9, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (69 percent)
Max Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @OC (10/19)
Fresno is going to host a postseason contest in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, but after its 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night it’s no longer in possession of second place and a potential No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The Foxes are going to need to go one better than the result Reno puts up on the final Saturday of the season to reclaim second spot, but if 1868 FC takes victory then third is the best Fresno can hope for.
4. Real Monarchs SLC
4. Real Monarchs SLC
Record: 15-10-7, 52pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 4th (67 percent)
Max Points Available: 58pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. AUS (10/16), vs. SAC (10/19)
Kyle Coffee’s stoppage-time goal against Phoenix Rising FC could end up being the goal that earns the Monarchs at least one home game this postseason, with Real remaining a point ahead of Orange County with two games to go. If the Monarchs claim all three points on Wednesday against Austin Bold FC, they will clinch a top-four finish and a second consecutive season with a home playoff game at Zions Bank Stadium.
5. Orange County SC
5. Orange County SC
Record: 14-10-9, 51pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 5th (72 percent)
Max Points Available: 54pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. FRS (10/19)
Orange County pulled off a big road win against Sacramento Republic FC, but now has to sit and wait to see what the Monarchs will do on Wednesday night to know if it will have a chance at a home playoff game going into its final game of the regular season on Saturday.
6. Sacramento Republic FC
6. Sacramento Republic FC
Record: 14-13-6, 48pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 7th (37 percent)
Max Points Available: 51pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @SLC (10/19)
A top-four finish is now out of reach for Republic FC after its loss to Orange County SC, and depending on how Austin Bold FC and El Paso Locomotive FC fare in midweek, Sacramento could be looking at hosting a Play-In game on October 23 if it doesn’t take victory on the road against the Monarchs to close out the regular season.
7. Austin Bold FC
7. Austin Bold FC
Record: 13-11-8, 47pts
Playoff Odds 98 percent
Projected Final Position: 6th (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Upcoming: @SLC (10/16), @TAC (10/19)
Bold FC remains where it entered the weekend needing just a point to clinch a playoff place in its inaugural season. If it can find a way to win on the road against Real Monarchs SLC, though, it could not only give itself a solid chance at avoiding the Play-In Round, but also move within two points of the Monarchs for a top-four finish.
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
8. El Paso Locomotive FC
Record: 12-9-11, 47pts
Playoff Odds 98 percent
Projected Final Position: 7th (30 percent)
Max Points Available: 53pts
Magic Number: 1pt
Upcoming: vs. POR (10/15), @LA (10/19)
El Paso also needs just a point from its final two games of the regular season, and if it wins against the Portland Timbers 2 on Tuesday night it would potentially be in a situation where it would be rooting for its fellow expansion side Austin Bold FC on Wednesday as an Austin victory against Real Monarchs SLC would keep Locomotive FC’s chances at a top-four finish alive.
9. LA Galaxy II
9. LA Galaxy II
Record: 11-10-12, 45pts
Playoff Odds 67 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 48pts
Magic Number: 3pts
Upcoming: vs. ELP (10/19)
The point the Galaxy II earned on Saturday night in stoppage time against Fresno FC could end up being crucial in the final state of play as it allowed Los Dos to remain a point ahead of San Antonio FC going into the final game of the season for both clubs. LA now knows that should El Paso Locomotive FC take at least a draw against the Portland Timbers 2 on Tuesday night, it will be in the playoffs if it matches San Antonio’s final result of the regular season.
10. San Antonio FC
10. San Antonio FC
Record: 12-13-8, 444pts
Playoff Odds 77 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (41 percent)
Max Points Available: 47pts
Magic Number: 4pts
Upcoming: vs. COS (10/19)
San Antonio officially still needs help to get into the playoffs, but the math says it’s a heavy favorite to take victory at home to last-place Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday night, which means the pressure could fall on the LA Galaxy II to match that result. If New Mexico United fails to take victory against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday, though, SAFC’s fate is in its hands.

11. New Mexico United
11. New Mexico United
Record: 10-10-12, 42pts
Playoff Odds 62 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (39 percent)
Max Points Available: 48pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: vs. TAC (10/16), vs. LV (10/19)
New Mexico’s late defeat against Tulsa Roughnecks FC means that while United still has its playoff chances under its control, the pressure that comes with that has been ratcheted up a great deal. Home games against Tacoma – which is mathematically eliminated – and Las Vegas – which needs a goal differential miracle – are both contests that New Mexico should win, but if it doesn’t pick up all three points against Tacoma on Wednesday then it’s no longer in control of its playoff destiny.
12. Las Vegas Lights FC
12. Las Vegas Lights FC
Record: 11-14-8, 41pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 13th (48 percent)
Max Points Available: 44pts
Magic Number: 7pts
Upcoming: @NM (10/19)
Las Vegas’ loss to Reno on Saturday night means that it not only needs to hope New Mexico doesn’t take victory on Wednesday night against Tacoma Defiance, but would then need to see Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC defeat San Antonio FC and itself defeat New Mexico on the road in a pair of results that would bridge the 13-goal differential advantage that San Antonio (+5) holds over Lights FC (-8) going into the final game of the season.
13. Portland Timbers 2
13. Portland Timbers 2
Record: 10-14-8, 38pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 12th (33 percent)
Max Points Available: 44pts
Magic Number: 10pts
Upcoming: @ELP (10/15), @RGV (10/18)
T2 doesn’t have to make up quite as big a gap in goal differential to San Antonio FC as Las Vegas (-2 to +5), but should it fail to take victory on Tuesday night or see New Mexico defeat Tacoma on Wednesday then its playoff hopes are going to be over before the weekend arrives.

Eliminated: Rio Grande Valley FC, OKC Energy FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Tacoma Defiance, Tulsa Roughnecks FC

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
1. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Record:18-4-11, 65pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 1st (52 percent)
Max Points Available: 68pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @BHM (10/20)
Riverhounds SC stepped up to the mark on Saturday night as Steevan Dos Santos’ late winner in Saint Louis kept the Hounds one point ahead of Nashville going into the final game of the regular season. With a top-two finish locked up, Pittsburgh will know how NSC has fared on Saturday night against Atlanta before it takes on Birmingham on Sunday evening.
2. Nashville SC
2. Nashville SC
Record:19-7-7, 64pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 2nd (52 percent)
Max Points Available: 67pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. ATL (10/19)
Nashville put itself in with a chance of going to the final game of the regular season in first place, only to see those hopes dashed by Pittsburgh’s late game-winner. Now it must take victory against Atlanta on Saturday night to put pressure on the Hounds to match it when they visit Birmingham Legion FC on Sunday evening.
3. Indy Eleven
3. Indy Eleven
Record:18-9-6, 60pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 3rd (66 percent)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. SPR (10/16)
A top-two finish is out of Indy’s reach now, but it would lock up a home playoff game and have the chance to seal third place in the standings with a win on Wednesday night. Should the Eleven take victory against the Swope Park Rangers in their regular-season finale and see the New York Red Bulls II fail to take victory against Birmingham Legion FC the same night, Indy would complete its regular-season schedule sitting clear of both New York and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
4. Tampa Bay Rowdies
4. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Record:16-7-10, 58pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 5th (46 percent)
Max Points Available: 61pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @HFD (10/19)
The Rowdies moved into fourth for now but are likely going to need help to stay there after their draw with Indy Eleven on Saturday night. Tampa Bay will be hoping that both Indy and New York falter on Wednesday night to keep it in with a chance of at least one home playoff game, and potentially a top-three finish when it heads to Hartford on Saturday.
5. New York Red Bulls II
5. New York Red Bulls II
Record:17-9-6, 57pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 4th (32 percent)
Max Points Available: 63pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @BHM (10/16), @LDN (10/19)
The Red Bulls II haven’t seen their own results go their way of late, but Saturday’s draw between Indy Eleven and the Tampa Bay Rowdies left a path to third place open for Head Coach John Wolyniec’s side. If New York takes victory against both Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night and at Loudoun United FC on Saturday, it would match Indy Eleven’s potential points and wins totals on 63 points and 19 wins while going into the week with a 10-goal advantage in goal differential, therefore likely claiming third spot on the second tiebreaker.
6. Louisville City FC
6. Louisville City FC
Record:16-8-9, 54pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 6th (70 percent)
Max Points Available: 60pts
Magic Number:N/A
Upcoming: @MEM (10/19)
Quite possibly the strangest game in Louisville’s history – and up there with the strangest in the Championship’s history – ensured that Louisville will finish in the top six and avoid the Play-In Round. Louisville will keep an eye on New York’s game on Wednesday ahead of its trip to Memphis on Saturday night, where if things fall right a top-four place still isn’t completely out of the question.
7. North Carolina FC
7. North Carolina FC
Record:15-10-8, 53pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 7th (83 percent)
Max Points Available: 56pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: vs. STL (10/19)
North Carolina will host a Play-In Round contest next week, the only question left to be determined is whether it will remain as the No. 7 seed or be overtaken by Ottawa Fury FC for that honor. In that regard, NCFC could have certainly hoped for an easier task than hosting a Saint Louis side that will be playing for its playoff life as it looks to close the season with a win.
8. Ottawa Fury FC
8. Ottawa Fury FC
Record:14-9-10, 52pts
Playoff Odds Clinched
Projected Final Position: 8th (83 percent)
Max Points Available: 55pts
Magic Number: N/A
Upcoming: @CLT (10/19)
Ottawa could have hoped for better than a draw from its contest against Bethlehem Steel FC, but it can still claim the No. 7 seed for the Play-In Round if it takes victory against the Charlotte Independence on Saturday and North Carolina fails to take victory against Saint Louis FC.
9. Saint Louis FC
9. Saint Louis FC
Record:11-13-9, 42pts
Playoff Odds 71 percent
Projected Final Position: 10th (50 percent)
Max Points Available: 45pts
Magic Number: 4pts
Upcoming: @NC (10/19)
Saint Louis is still above the playoff line, but after its loss to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on Saturday night it’s no longer in control of its playoff fate. To regain that before it visits North Carolina FC on Saturday night, it will need one of Birmingham Legion FC (vs. New York) or the Charleston Battery (vs. Memphis) to drop points in their respective games on Wednesday night.
10. Birmingham Legion FC
10. Birmingham Legion FC
Record:11-14-7, 40pts
Playoff Odds 46 percent
Projected Final Position: 11th (54 percent)
Max Points Available: 46pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: vs. NY (10/16), vs. PIT (10/20)
Legion FC was thrown a lifeline by the combination of Saint Louis and Charleston’s results this weekend, meaning if Birmingham wins out over its final two games then it’s going to be guaranteed a playoff place. The trouble is those two games come against sides in the Red Bulls II and Riverhounds SC that are not only in the top five, but also have plenty to play for themselves. It’s a big task ahead for Head Coach Tom Soehn’s side.

11. Charleston Battery
11. Charleston Battery
Record:9-10-13, 40pts
Playoff Odds 83 percent
Projected Final Position: 9th (57 percent)
Max Points Available: 46pts
Magic Number: 6pts
Upcoming: vs. MEM (10/16), vs. BST (10/19)
After they took the early lead against Loudoun United on Saturday it looked like Charleston was on its way again, but in letting that lead slip the Battery couldn’t take advantage of Birmingham and Saint Louis’ defeats in their most recent outings. The Battery could get a test on Wednesday, too, from a Memphis 901 FC side that has a mathematical path to the playoffs still open if it can take victory at MUSC Health Stadium.
15. Memphis 901 FC
15. Memphis 901 FC
Record:9-16-7, 34pts
Playoff Odds <1 percent
Projected Final Position: 15th (34 percent)
Max Points Available: 40pts
Magic Number: 12pts
Upcoming: @CHS (10/16), vs. LOU (10/19)
OK, so this is a longshot, but if 901 FC takes victory against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday night while Birmingham Legion FC loses to the New York Red Bulls II, it sets up a shot for Memphis to hit a three-game combination (defeat Louisville City FC, Charleston lose to Bethlehem Steel FC, Birmingham lose to Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) that would potentially see 901 FC find a way past both the Battery and Legion FC through tiebreakers – total wins over the Battery, goal differential over Legion FC.

Eliminated: ATL UTD 2, Charlotte Independence, Loudoun United FC, Bethlehem Steel FC, Hartford Athletic, Swope Park Rangers

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